Zucchini, also known as courgette, is a summer squash. Most people think of it as a vegetable … but zucchini is technically a fruit! Because zucchini forms from the zucchini flower, it’s a berry, in botanical terms. So … what benefits can this long, green berry provide for your dog? Keep reading to discover the pros and cons of zucchini for dogs … and why you should add it to your dog’s bowl!
Can Dogs Have Zucchini?
Yes, Zucchini’s mild flavor makes it easy to feed most dogs. But what other health benefits does this green squash offer?
We’ve put together the definitive list to answer the popular question: “Can dogs eat zucchini?”
#1 Zucchini is Full of Antioxidants
Zucchini is jam-packed with antioxidants!
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help protect the body from free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause long-term harm to your dog. Free radicals can damage your dog’s cells and DNA … and speed the aging process.
This is called oxidative stress … and it’s a bit like rust accumulating in the body. But antioxidants can help clean up the damage.
Carotenoids are a type of antioxidant that gives certain plants their characteristic colors. And this antioxidant is plentiful in zucchini.
Don’t peel your dog’s zucchini. The skin has the highest amount of antioxidants… so leave it on! And the skin also adds fiber … leading me to my next point.
#2 Zucchini for Digestion
Filled with water, zucchini lessens constipation and softens the stool. Zucchini also contains soluble and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber bulks the stool and reduces constipation by drawing water into the stool.
Soluble fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria that create Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) in the gut. This reduces the chances of a gut disorder … like leaky gut, irritable bowel disease, or colitis.
#3 It’s Nutrient Dense
Zucchini is super dense in nutrients … making it a great natural source of vitamins and minerals.
It’s rich in vitamins A, C, B6, K … and minerals like potassium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus.
Vitamins C and K are not essential since dogs manufacture them on their own … but they’re stil highly beneficial in food.
And some vitamins, like vitamin C and A, are antioxidants too!
Raw zucchini has slightly higher levels of vitamin A than the cooked fruit. Cooking reduces vitamin A in food. So … you can give it to your dog to eat raw as long as you purée the zucchini for digestibility.
#4 Weight Loss
Zucchini is very low in calories … there are only 17 in one cup of zucchini!
It’s also high in water and fiber … so it may help weight loss.
Fiber helps reduce hunger and gives a feeling of fullness. Plus, zucchini is a low-glycemic vegetable… meaning it won’t spike your dog’s blood sugar.
Vegetation should be around 10% of your dog’s total diet. But giving zucchini and other green veggies can add high nutritional benefits… and could help your dog lose a few pounds!
Caution For Dogs Eating Zucchini
Usually, zucchini is a non-toxic food that you can safely give your dog in moderation …
But, in some cases, zucchini can be extremely bitter … and possibly toxic. That’s due to the cucurbitacins, a class of biochemicals found in plants.
Avoiding Bitter Zucchini
Cucurbitacins, known in chemistry as “bitter principles,” give off a bitter flavor and can be toxic. This biochemical is usually in the roots, stems, and leaves … all parts of squash humans don’t usually eat. But when the bitterness goes into the plant, it causes a very bitter (and toxic) taste!
Ironically, researchers are studying the potential benefits of curcubitacins for use in pharmaceutical drugs against inflammation, cancer, artherosclerosis and diabetes. But don’t try to fix these ailments in your dog with these bitter fruits!
Cucurbitacins, with their bitter taste, can be toxic for your dog. In humans, bitter zucchini can cause nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.
To avoid bitter zucchini …
… make sure you’re buying healthy zucchini grown in favorable conditions. Organic is always best. And choose smaller ones … the monster zucchini you sometimes find are more likely to be bitter.
If you’re not sure, taste a little before feeding it to your dog! If it’s bitter, throw it away (or put it in your compost heap).
Feeding Your Dog Zucchini The Right Way
Zucchini tastes best when it’s young and tender … so if you grow it yourself, pick it before it grows into a baseball bat!
If you buy zucchini, choose the smaller size ones at the store. Make sure they’re firm and don’t feel squishy.
When feeding zucchini or any vegetables to your dog, make sure to prep it properly …
Cut off the stalk of the vegetable
Blend, steam, boil or ferment for digestibility
Chop it into small pieces
This breaks down the cell wall to make the nutrients readily available to your dog.
How can you add zucchini to any diet?
Feed this awesome food … on top of meals, in puzzle toys, made into homemade treats in a dehydrator.
Since the general veggie feeding guideline for dogs is around 10% of the diet … give these amounts according to your dog’s size:
- 1-2 tsp daily for small dogs
- 2-3 tsp daily for medium dogs
- 1-2 Tbsp daily for large dogs
Even though meat-based diets are best for dogs … small amounts of produce can be super valuable.
With so many wonderful benefits… zucchini is safe for dogs to eat, and another great addition to his bowl!